Hey, neighbor: South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, above, included North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, in his first address of 2012.
Now that Kim Jong Un has successfully made the transition out from under his late father’s shadow and into his new role as North Korea’s leader, is there any room for a shift in relations between his nation and its southern neighbor? South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak sounded a cautiously optimistic note suggesting as much in his New Year’s address Monday. —KA
Lee Myung-bak reached out in his New Year’s message to the North Korean government now led by Kim’s son, Kim Jong-un, saying he has high hopes for a breakthrough this year in negotiations over the North’s nuclear programme.
However, Mr Lee warned that Seoul would respond sternly to any North Korean provocations. Relations between the rival Koreas dropped to their lowest point in decades following the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship that killed 46 sailors and North Korea’s deadly shelling of a front-line island later that year.